Ties That Bind: What Connects Us All

Despite our differences, we're all human and there are some things that connect us to one another. These are some things that bring us together according to local parents and kids.

We are all connected.

Even when our lives take different paths, when our ideas and thoughts don’t align, we must still find ways to connect with those around us. But the past year has shaken us all, from racial injustices to fights about mask wearing and everything in between. This month, after a tumultuous four years, half of us will be happy with the election results and half of us won’t.

So, it’s important to take time to remember that we all share a common thread: our humanity.

We asked our readers to share their thoughts and wisdoms – and what they believe connects us all – as we start to try to stuff 2020 into the history books. It’s time to heal the divide trying to pull us apart.

Something that we all have in common is thoughts and feelings. No matter how hard we try not to feel, we always end up feeling something; whether that is love, inclusion, racism, bias, joy, sadness, confidence or doubt. Everyone has emotions, feelings, and thoughts on the inside that they don’t show on the outside. We need to take a minute to get to know people on the inside rather than just on the outside. Most of the emotions people hide on the inside are the ones that really help you get to know a person, while also really showing you who a person is on an authentic level.

Being a Black person in America is difficult. It can be hard not to let the negative things people say about you get to you. Feelings can be hurt or heightened by the statements of others. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are and don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Even though you might think that people don’t care about your feelings, or that your differences are too extreme, just share them. You never know what connections you might make.”

– Sienna Abney, 12, student

Most people generally want the same thing, which is to be respected, treated fairly and loved. I believe that we are naturally connected to people who we can relate to, who share similar interests and those who we are inspired by. Being able to agree to disagree plays a significant role in creating and maintaining relationships. We can improve connecting with others by being open minded, remembering that everyone has feelings and should be treated with respect.

Also, we can improve connections by realizing that everyone is entitled to their opinion, that our differences are what makes us unique and by being who you are authentically. I strongly believe that these are the key components to building the basic foundation of making connections, relationship building and maintaining.”

– Ericka Woods, mom and founder of 1Mother2Another, a nonprofit devoted to motivating, empowering and educating moms

I personally am a fan of the comeback story, and as a nation I truly believe we are all living in our own version of this. This year has been hard, but it’s in these moments that we dig deep, learn and move forward even stronger.”

– Whitney Reynolds, mom of twins and host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated Whitney Reynolds Show

I think what connects us, especially during this time, is the desire to feel safe and protected. No one wants to worry about where their next meal, car payment or bills will come from. Sadly, the global pandemic that we are currently in has exposed, even further, how those deemed to be on the fringes of society have been impacted by the current state of affairs.

The sheer number of people who have lost jobs, insurance and, most importantly, family members has shown us the holes in the fabric of our society. If I had to bet, I’d guess that no one would want to be a part of those numbers. We all long for safety, it’s a basic human need. Hopefully we can get to a point where the holes are filled and none fall through the cracks.”

– Dr. Kiarra King, mom, OB-GYN and fashion influencer

When the pandemic ripped my life from under my feet, I did what many of us did. I closed my doors to the outside world and withdrew to my four walls, where I struggled alone. I grieved the loss of normalcy, my freedom, my safety, my control, and I responded to my suffering with anxiety, fear and worry. I eventually found the courage to open my door and immediately realized that my personal struggles were shared struggles.

As I confided in others, my struggles no longer consumed me; rather, they diminished in my genuine support of others. I grieved and responded to my suffering in my own way, on my own time. Knowing this, I vowed to keep my door open to others, to frequently check-in on their lives between walls, to listen empathically, and to support THEM on their emotional journeys.”

– Lyndsey Sleek, expectant mom

If we’re going to reconnect going forward, we’ll need to agree that decency is important. Not just civility — which can hide cruelty and bigotry — but decency. To the notion that caring and respect and diversity and truthfulness and generosity are tenets we hold dear. That rampant death is not acceptable. That rampant poverty is not acceptable. That the world our children will inherit is more important than short-term profit. That we have laws and ethics and checks and balances for a reason.

We have to demand that our officials and our neighbors and our public servants and our family members model the character we would want to see in our children. Selfishness and indifference to suffering has hollowed out our society for decades, and we can’t pretend it hasn’t. Either we agree that we’re all in this together, that we owe one another something as living creatures and citizens of the earth, or we’re done for.”

– Matt Boresi, dad of one and librettist at Hilliard and Boresi

At this very moment, it’s hard to figure out how we can go back to those relationships severed with the political divide. As a woman of color and whose family is ravaged by COVID, I felt that I have to use my voice to share my struggles. I may not change some of my family and friends’ minds, but I know deep down that we all desire the same thing — to be among equally compassionate people that will hopefully salve and be the balm to comfort from all the hurt.”

– MJ Tam, mom and talk show co-host of The #ChicagonistaLIVE Show

I think that religion can connect us. And community. For example I’ve made most of my friends via our local swimming pool. Work also brings us together. Whether you’re on a team in a big company or working at a small company. Work is a good commonality.”

– Kimberly Kutnick, mom and businesswoman

My wife and I are educators. And since March, we’ve been working overtime as elementary school teachers for our twin boys (and the daughter of dear friends) as they learn via our school district’s ‘virtual academy.’ And while we’re attuned to the power of learning on a day-to-day basis because of our jobs, the global pandemic, the push towards racial justice, and the disregard for democracy’s institutions and norms have underscored the radical potential of learning to bridge the gaps separating us from each other.

Recognizing the importance of learning (especially in a democracy) means being mindful of the dispositions that make for good learners. Good learners recognize they don’t know it all. And they accept they never will. As a result, good learners always seek out and welcome feedback from people with more experience and from different communities. The best learners among us don’t go looking for “right” answers; they inquire to know more, which leads to better answers. “Failure,” in the eyes of a good learner, is always a moment to get better. Learning orients us to our collective potential. Now, more than ever, we have to be better learners.

– Mike Ristich, dad of twins

One thing that I find to be one of the most relatable human experiences is parenthood, motherhood in particular. Whether they are raising their children in the suburbs of Chicago or Detroit, a village in the Sahara, or an igloo in Northern Canada – ALL moms share that feeling of overwhelming love for their children. They all share the hope that their children will be loved, safe, and cherished. They all wonder if they’re doing and saying the right things that will ensure their children grow up to be amazing and successful human beings.

Motherhood unites us in a way that few other things can. And one of the best ways we can leverage that connection is by reminding ourselves of those shared values that we have as parents. We all want a better tomorrow for our babies. We can create that by being better to each other today and reaching out to build relationships that are based on what unites us in the expression of some of our best characteristics as humans – love, generosity, forgiveness, and hope for the beautiful little people in our lives.

– Hafsa Rana, mentor, content strategist & blogger at Happily Hafsa

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